Petit To Make Major League Debut; Casilla DLd

Middle infielder Gregorio Petit has been recalled to Oakland, replacing injured reliever Santiago Casilla on the Oakland A's 25-man roster. Petit will be making his major-league debut with Oakland.

The Oakland A's announced on Friday that middle infielder Gregorio Petit has been recalled to Oakland. He will replace reliever Santiago Casilla on the A's 25-man roster. Casilla left the A's game versus Cleveland on Thursday with right elbow pain.

Petit gets the call to the major leagues after seven years in the A's minor-league system. He participated in his first major-league spring training camp this season and was one of the final cuts this spring. He traveled with the A's to Tokyo as an extra player for the A's series in Japan. He was awed by his experience in Japan.

"Never in my life did I think that I was going to be on the other side of the world, so it was pretty nice for me. Japan was awesome," Petit said earlier in the season.

"Being with the 25 guys who are on the big league team, I got to learn something every day. And I got to see those big guys from Boston, too, and how they prepared. It was really fun."

Petit was signed by the A's as an international free agent in 2001 out of his native Venezuela. It is believed that when he steps on the field for Oakland, Petit will be the only player in the A's system to have played for all of the teams in the A's system, including the A's Dominican Summer League teams. Petit made his US debut in 2003 for the A's Arizona Rookie League team and he has steadily moved up the chain ever since. In 2004, he was with short-season Vancouver. In 2005, Low-A Kane County. In 2006, High-A Stockton. In 2007, Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. Now in 2008, Triple-A Sacramento and the Oakland A's.

Petit is batting .304 in 37 games for the River Cats this season, often hitting out of the lead-off spot. Last year, he hit .292 in 133 games for Midland and Sacramento.

Sacramento manager Todd Steverson has seen Petit grow as a hitter throughout his years in the A's system.

"His progression has been tremendous in terms of his maturity at the plate. His pitch selection is better and his thought process in terms of what he should be doing up there and what they are looking for out of him as a hitter is better," Steverson said.

"I think he has done well in terms of where he is now and where he was when I first met him in '04."

Although Petit has improved at the plate, it is his work in the field that has gotten the most notice over the years. He had arguably the strongest throwing arm of any infielder in the A's system. In addition, his range at short and his soft hands have often impressed his teammates and coaches.

"I'm not surprised at anything [Petit] does because he makes some of the most amazing plays at shortstop that I have ever seen," Sacramento reliever Brad Ziegler told last season.

In addition to short, Petit can play at second and third base. He also has above-average speed and should give the A's added versatility during their interleague match-up with the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta this weekend. The A's were thin up the middle before Petit's arrival, as second baseman Mark Ellis is nursing a hamstring strain. Petit's presence on the A's roster should give Oakland a few more days to decide whether or not Ellis needs to head to the DL.

The loss of Casilla in the bullpen is a big blow for Oakland, however. Casilla was 2-0 with a save and a 0.93 ERA in 21 relief appearances with the A's this year. He left Thursday's game shaking his right arm after allowing a home run to the only batter he faced, Jhonny Peralta to lead off the seventh inning. The hard-throwing right-hander is tied for second among American League relievers in appearances (21), tied for third in strikeouts (22) and tied for fourth in ERA.

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